Tag Archives: health

More thoughts on feeding a toddler

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I have another urge to write something about what I’ve learnt about breastfeeding a toddler.

In a way I feel like I shouldn’t have to write this yet somehow it needs to be said.  I’m learning slowly how to communicate the way I feel in a positive way rather than being typically British and apologetic. I am now trying to ensure that I always say “R is breastfed” rather than the usual “R is still breastfed”. Don’t forget that the WHO recommend breastfeeding to two and beyond so I’m not some crazy boobmatyrhippy I’m just following World Health guidelines.

I’m lucky that both my mother and mother in law breastfed, although in a different day and age and with very different guidelines and advice. This means that straight off no one in my immediate family found  “natural term” breastfeeding odd or gave me a hard time about it. That’s another phrase-refusing to say “extended”breastfeeding any more to mean feeding past six months,  but to say “natural term” to reflect the nature of feeding a child until an extend nursing strike or self-initiated weaning.

It would be a lie to say that I don’t care what other people think or what they think of me. Obviously I care little about what strangers think of me as their opinion is irrelevant whilst it matters more what my friends and family think.  There is a huge disappointment when I hear phrases from friends and acquaintances like “I’m all for breastfeeding but. ..” which is the breastfeeding-in-public version of “I’m not a racist but”. Whatever is going to come after that “but” is almost certainly going to be misinformed, incorrect and offensive.

  I talk passionately about breastfeeding because I think it’s important that we change the way our society  views it. I’m not saying that everyone should breastfeed no matter what but just that we accept it as a normal part of every day public life.  This in turn will improve rates of breastfeeding as it becomes a more normalised and publically discussed activity. It will make it more accessible to more people, giving women the choice and the power back in the relationship rather than giving over to the misinformation rife when women are having a physical or emotional wobble about breastfeeding

So whilst I  “don’t care” what strangers think of me breastfeeding a toddler in public (probably not discreetly as he won’t stay still for 5 seconds), I do care about why people would find this entirely natural act offensive. I worry about the state of the country I live in where people think that feeding a baby from the breast is disgusting or wrong. I want to change the way people feel about it and the way they view it.

There are (to my honest knowledge) many people who think that women that breastfed past a certain age (usually a number picked out of the air) are “only doing it for themselves”. If you’ve ever watched a toddler breastfeed you’d have something else to say. With blocked ducts and mastitis,  nipple and skin pinching, Gymnastics, teeth etc it’s not really a relaxing cuddle with your small person. But then on the back of that, another huge swathe of people think that women who breastfeed to natural term are ridiculous martyrs who like to Lord over everyone else about how hard their lives are but who won’t help themselves to make life easier. By help themselves I mean employ tactics they are not comfortable with/ dont believe in that someone else thinks it will help them.

I promise you that the majority of us are neither of the above.  When you make a parenting decision, you often feel like the decision has been made for you and there was actually no choice at all.

There are very few circumstances under which a woman cannot breastfeed. This is not to undermine those who genuinely can’t , but they are in a very small minority. There was absolutely no decision to be made for me,  if I could, I would. I didn’t feel like this was a decision that I made and it certainly wasn’t in silo. It was about my whole outlook on the point of procreation- and it was just always going to be that way. Luckily once he worked it out, R felt the same and his complete bottle refusal showed me that he wanted to be breastfed. Even if for any reason I wanted to wean now, I wouldn’t have the first idea about how to go about it and R would be none too pleased about it all. It’s an even better reason to keep feeding him.

And this is what makes things hard. R is not a sleeper. And some breastfed babies are, some aren’t. Babies are made to wake every 90 minutes or so. Some can settle themselves back to sleep and some can’t. Sometimes this is beyond challenging. During my week of solo parenting R decided on the last night that he didn’t fancy going to sleep. I was exhausted having been up and out to buggy fit in the morning then out to a friends in the afternoon and it was day five of solo parenting. It took me two hours and two different beds to get him down. He woke after fifteen minutes. He then took another hour to settle again and that time slept for just thirty minutes. After about 2 1/2 hours I started to slowly crumble. This isn’t related to breastfeeding specifically but the style of more natural /attachment parenting that we have fallen into through our beliefs and Outlook.

Toddler refusingto sleep, Husband about to board a plane hundreds of miles away and all I felt was that I was trapped and unable to express honestly how I was feeling to anyone. When it feels (from comments made like “you spoil him” or “you need to put him in his own bed otherwise you’ll never get him out” etc) everyone seems to view you as a soft idiot who should be shutting the door on your screaming baby to try to”fix” him, it’s hard to find solidarity. Luckily someone posted about a similar problem on the Facebook breastfeeding group that I’m on and I felt able to share there and the lovely comments and support I received there was invaluable that night, another night feeling in a pit of despair.

What to say? Never assume you know how someone else is thinking or that you know what you’d do in their shoes. Women who have had around 4hrs sleep a night for a year plus don’t tend to handle thoughtless comments well. Don’t underestimate how far a nice comment can go when it’s needed.

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Annual fitness update

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Time for my annual exercise update!

In 2015 despite having a small person I completed about 653 1/2 hours of exercise (most to date!)- covering about 1540 miles (245 by bike, over 1000 walking, 70 running and a few others too). Most of it was walking to the shops, to visit friends or for the sake of walking, and 53 buggyfit classes.

Most of those miles include pushing or carrying baby.

Most active month was October with around 50 hours of exercise!

New things- didn’t try many new things this year but did attend 2 days of Gilly’s festive bootcamp and tried my first two boxercise sessions. Enjoyed a little Ice Skate on the Isle of Man too.

And I bought some new leggings too!

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Review: BUGGYFIT

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Something I’m always talking about because it’s the one constant in my weekly routine since October 2013 is Buggyfit.

I’m an active outdoorsey kind of person, so when I heard about a weekly exercise class to encourage new mums to keep fit and get out of the house, I signed up in a heartbeat. I’m really lucky that my local class really is very local. I resent driving anywhere to do exercise and don’t have the use of a car most of the time anyway, so the fact that Buggyfit is run at South Hill Park which is exactly a mile’s walk from my house is a huge bonus. I called the class weekly but actually GLF Fitness run a number of buggyfit classes throughout the week- two at South Hill Park on Tuesdays and Thursdays at 10am and one California Country Park in Finchampstead at 10:30 am on a Wednesday morning.

This is only going to be a positive review, let me tell you now!
Things I LOVE about buggyfit:

*It gets you out of the house
As a new parent whether it’s your first or subsequent child, getting out of the house is something most people actively crave, though don’t always have the motivation to do so. It’s really important not only for physical health but for mental health too- To go from an active adult with a busy work and social life to being a mummy where you might feel you’re “stuck” at home all day in the totally new environment of having a baby to look after is a huge change that can really affect mental health and happiness.

It’s hard to get out with a new baby- knowing what to take, getting them ready, choosing their layers of clothing (forgetting your extra layers), sorting snacks and drinks, working out when you’ll be able to feed them, planning outings around nap times and so on. Not to mention the utter exhaustion of parenthood which can lead to entirely forgetting your own name, let alone a water bottle for an exercise class. When R was little, we went out every day – even if it was just a short walk. We went out in any weather but then I know I’m that kind of person who will find the motivation to leave the house and get some fresh air and exercise. However, like I said before- this is the one permanent fixture in my diary- I am officially busy on a Thursday morning doing Buggyfit!

*The trainers are GREAT
Gilly and Becky run my local Buggyfit classes and they are both brilliant. They are well organised, friendly and very knowledgeable, particularly on the kind of exercises new mums should and shouldn’t do, but also generally within the fitness arena. Both can gauge fitness and strength levels of a participant very quickly and will use that to support you through injury or tiredness and push you if you want to work hard. I want to work hard but need a little motivation and they keep me going throughout the class. They’re both also great with children so whilst you’re taking part in circuits or a short run, they are happy to jiggle the prams and keep the small people amused.

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*The classes are varied
As Gilly and Becky run other classes too, they have lots of equipment and ideas to keep the classes interesting. We do a mix of fast walking, circuit training, work with bands, light handweights, some boxing, partner work and the odd bit of running for those who want to. Although you get to know the general format of the class, you never do the same route and exercises two weeks running.

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*Beautiful locations
Both California Country Park and South Hill Park are really lovely places to hang out, and the lovely manicured gardens and forested walkways at SHP make the exercise all the more enjoyable. Sometimes we have to dodge the swans around the lake, but we always have tree cover for the hot sunny summer days and somewhere to shelter on the really soggy ones. Surprisingly we don’t get that many really cold wet mornings, but the classes go ahead pretty much no matter what the weather, and people attend!

*Great people
I’ve met some really lovely friends through Buggyfit- likeminded local mummies (And daddies!). There’s always a great camaraderie in the group and when we can we pop into the cafe for a cuppa afterwards. Now my little boy is a bit bigger, he wants to run around the play park afterwards which makes heading in for a hot drink a bit more challenging, but it’s fun nonetheless.
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*They run other classes too
This has sparked a very surprising (for me) love of Boxing! We do a little boxing sometimes as part of Buggyfit with gloves and pads, and I shocked myself by loving it. It’s a great combination of cardio and strength using lots of core muscles and I find it very engaging. As a result, I’ve now attended two of Gilly’s Saturday morning Boxercise classes at Pinewood Scout Hut before Christmas and plan to attend more in the new year to build on my strength.

I also signed up to a couple of days of Gilly and Becky’s intensive 8 day Christmas Boot Camp. As we were away for much of the christmas period (and then I had a big birthday), I only attended two consecutive days (unlike the amazing hardcore lads and ladies who did all 8). However it was great fun, despite being -4 both mornings and us completing our circuits (the first day I did) and boxing (the second day) outside on frosty ground. It was a huge friendly group with a great focussed attitude. Gilly even provided us all with Epsom Salts for a nice muscle relaxing soak afterwards!

*Inspiration
I’ve been inspired to not only try Gilly’s other classes but get out a bit more by myself outside of that time. Whilst I tend to maintain some level of fitness, the lack of cycling over the last 16 months has been hard on my fitness levels and strength. So I have taken up a little running etc when I have a chance. Gilly is herself an inspiration- on her last big birthday I actually thought she was 10 years younger than she actually is! If i can be half as fit and look half as good as her when I reach that big birthday, I will be pleased!

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More info on GLF Fitness Classes here: http://www.glffitness.com/ .
Come along and try one!

Photos copyright Marla White (link to Flickr account)– taken at the Festive Bootcamp in the frost!

Hand foot and mouth

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Two weeks left of maternity and I’m poorly! Not fair!

Last week the boy had a few spots on his feet and a bit of a cold but was ok in himself. On Friday I woke up feeling awful with a throat made of razor blades and that horrible heavy aching flu feeling. Then slowly the spots started. I’d Googled hand foot and mouth when the baby seemed to have it but the Internet reliably told me that adults only got a mild version and it wouldn’t itch.

I suppose they were partially right- it doesn’t really itch. It does sting like hell though. I’ve been lucky so far as further research suggests that a mouth full of painful ulcers is reasonably common for adults who get hf&m. I’ve got a red raw nose, a rash on my chin and chest then the red polkadots all over my hands and feet.  My mouth is dotty but no ulcers yet.

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My hands sting like crazy especially when I have to use them. Any kind of pressure, rough texture or heat really hurts like a burn. So looking after a baby is frustratingly hard. I don’t feel as ill and fluey now but still feeling rubbish. And I suppose we shouldn’t be going to baby groups etc for fear of passing this on. No good.

Health

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It was a stressful week! We went on our first proper holiday with just the three of us-stayed at a beautiful Landmark Trust property in Bedford in the middle of the forest.
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On the last  night we noticed what looked like some insect bites on baby’s leg. The next morning the spots had spread and looked like chicken pox. By lunch time it had turned into a huge angry red rash with huge welts across his head, ears, neck, armpits, sides, nappy area and legs. Once I got through our doctors complicated triage system we got an appointment for the afternoon.

Turns out its hives. An allergic reaction to *something* (Pine wood? It was mentioned on the info sheet from the dr.). Could be a one off and we might never know but I can’t wait for it to go away as it’s so itchy for him.
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On Tuesday

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On Wednesday.

He has antihistamines to try to reduce the itchiness and we bathed him in camomile tea last night! Poor baby 😦

The body

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I actually love my post pregnancy body. I’m absolutely certain that I’m not supposed to-media and the reactions of other women tell me this. On one of my long buggy-pushing walks  I started thinking about it.

What do I love about it? I am astonished at how soft the skin is on my tummy-having stretched and then retracted back (most the way) something has happened to the elasticity which had affected the texture. I think it feels like a velvety little puppy and it is fascinating. I feel less pressure to look slim too which is weird really when you consider the media hype around ‘regaining pre pregnancy bodies’.  In fact from the second I had told people I was pregnant I felt myself relax and didn’t need to try to look slim! Strange what the brain does.

I have been relatively lucky when it comes to stretch marks. I have a few and they only appeared after baby was born. Stretch marks have a while load of stigma attached and I did some of the connotations quite patronising.  There is a habit amongst mummies to brand their stretch marks Tiger Stripes and talk about how they have ‘earnt’ them through their pregnancy. On face value the seems nothing wrong with this-it seems that women are empowered and putting a positive spin on something that is often portrayed very negatively.

The issue I have is the exclusivity. I’ve never been a fan of the ‘exclusive mummy club’ and this is a classic example in my eyes. There are hundreds of women out there with stretch marks. They are entirely normal and nothing to be ashamed of. Many people find them beautiful and feel they tell the story of their life, but are told they haven’t ‘earnt’ them by joining the exclusive mummy club. ….

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Carpal Tunnel

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So onto the next fun pregnancy symptom!

I’ve been waking up with pins and needles in my fingers every morning for the past few weeks. Over the last week or so, I’ve been finding my knuckle joints really stiff and painful when I first get up in the morning. It takes ages for me to be able to use my hands in the morning.

Apparently in Pregnancy, carpal tunnel in quite normal due to the increased blood flow and swelling in the hands. Of all the things I expected, this was not one of them!

My hands are so swollen in the heat, especially when I exercise. I can’t easily keep my hands raised when I walk or cycle so they tend to throb and swell. My rings already came off, my replacement (larger) ring also came off (which I’m gutted about as I hate not being able to wear my wedding rings) and my feet are following suit (but luckily I don’t wear any rings on my toes!)

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During exercise

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Fatty feet

Active week

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After a couple of very hot and very lazy feeling weeks (bear in mind that even putting socks on feels like a bit of a workout at the moment), I’ve finally had a good active week!

With my usual to-ing and fro-ing to the train station and back for work, I have had a low baseline of activity of 3-9 hours a week of exercise recently- mostly a little walking and cycling.

This week has ended up being very varied- with a trip to the swimming pool on wednesday night (which was lovely and quiet) where I managed 30 lengths.

Friday was a work social afternoon of off-road cycling around the lovely Swinley forest near where I live. I could have chickened out of taking part, but really wanted to join in, and my local knowledge was needed. So I cycled to the station to pick up the group and take them up to the forest. We then split in two, with one group going over to the new mountain biking trails and then I took a second group out for a slower, more relaxing ride around the less technical (but hillier!) firetracks which crisscross the forest for miles. All in all, our group did 16 plus miles including to and from the train station, and I was only defeated by one hill, which was a short sharp rise that came out of nowhere, with a very loose sandy soil.

Then Saturday was the last hen party of the year. I was organising it, with ideas from the hen- and the morning was to be outdoor watersport activities. I had been in contact with the lovely friendly Engage Watersports in Taplow for a few weeks to organise a bespoke morning and they couldn’t have set the tone and activity level better! With a mixed group including one pregnant lady and one over-65, they did a great job of keeping us entertained, looking after us on the water and providing a great structure for the day. Obviously it was key that I didn’t get injured etc so I had the pleasure of sharing a nice Stable Canadian Canoe with one of the instructors, and I was able to do some photography for the first part of the session and then do some paddling too later. The rest of the group took out kyaks and stand-up paddleboards on the lake to have a play. A few large splashes and fully wet people by the end of that session- but we were lucky with gorgeous hot sunny weather.

The next part of the day involved kyaking in tandem kyaks down the Jubilee River to a lovely pub for lunch and back. There were a few sore arms by the end of that! I was able to take part in the paddling for this bit, although I had to walk around the first part of the river as there was no easy place to get me into the canoe! After we’d carried the canoes and kyaks across the weir and road, I could get in and help out with some of the paddling. We did the samee in reverse on the way back.

I am unsurprisingly tired today, but was so grateful to have been able to take part in activities this week. It reminded me how much I love being outside, especially in good weather. I love trying new things, I love being active and being given the opportunity to do things this week has been great! So “only” a 36 mile week this week- with 24 on the bike, 7 walking, 3 in a canoe and a half mile swim!

Photos to follow……

Vitamin D and finger prints!

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One of the first things I did on finding out I was pregnant, was to find myself an app. I’m not really a phone-y person, but obviously the stuff our mobiles can now do is pretty astonishing. Especially if you think about the very first computers and what they were capable of. However, I’ve never really been an “I’ve got an app for that” kind of person, but like practical apps (mapping usually) rather than games. I got the I’m Expecting app which had good reviews and was free.

It gives you week by week updates about your baby-to-be including tips for the mother, information about what might be happening to your body, how your baby is developing and the main source of amusement (as mentioned in this post) as it’s measured in hillarious middle class fruit and veg.

Week 16 was Avocado, Week 17 was an Onion and week 18 has been Bell Pepper. Next week- we’re mango!

The other thing that blows me away is that it talks a little about what the baby is specifically developing that week. And this week, our baby is becoming an individual! He or she is growing fingerprint whorls this week! I’m stunned by that concept. I am not sure why!

This week we’ve seen some slightly nicer weather, and I’ve been out enjoying it where possible. This included getting my tummy out at a train platform whilst slumped on a seat in the sun on Friday! Baby needs vitamin D to regulate calcium and phosphate in the body to help bones and teeth to develop.

Saturday we went for a nice long bike ride on quiet back roads through stunning Berkshire countryside. We managed just under 24 miles total, and when we got back I fell asleep in the sunshine in the garden. I feel a bit tight and itchy today but that sunshine was needed 🙂


You’d never know I was 18 weeks pregnant (almost 19!) from this picture!